U.S. star midfielder
How much has Donovan changed his European reputation after three unsuccessful stints in Germany over the years? Keep in mind that he has played only eight games, but the reviews have been universally positive. On Thursday, Donovan was chosen Everton's player of the month in a vote by the team's fans, a clear sign that the American has made an immediate impact while playing on the right side of the midfield for the resurgent Toffees.
When Donovan's loan deal was announced in December, the concern was whether he would have enough time to settle into his new team before having to return to America. But from the moment Donovan started and had an assist in his first game -- a 2-2 tie at Arsenal just seven days after his arrival in England -- it was evident that Everton manager
Donovan has started every game since. He scored his first European goal in a 2-0 win over Sunderland on Jan. 27. He has provided two assists on inch-perfect corner kicks. He has tracked back well on defense. And he enjoyed his best game in Everton's 2-1 win over league-leading Chelsea on Feb. 10, producing an assist and a drawn penalty while outplaying England left back
Most important, he's contributing to victories. During a tough stretch in Everton's schedule -- including games against Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City -- the Toffees have won five times in Donovan's eight matches. Before the American's arrival Everton had won only five times in its previous 20 games.
The question now is whether Everton will try to extend Donovan's loan in the same way that AC Milan extended the loan of
Everton may want to extend Donovan's loan -- he has played well, and the team is dealing with injuries to midfielders
That means Donovan's transfer price would still depend on how much Everton (or any other club) wanted him and how much MLS would demand for him. Remember, Donovan has four seasons left on his MLS contract, which means the transfer price would be higher than it was before he signed his new deal (when he had only two years left). There also remains a thorny issue: Is Donovan's singular value to MLS (as its top American star) far higher than what his value would be on the European open market? This was the same issue that kept Milan from reaching a transfer agreement for Beckham in '09.
How much is Donovan worth to MLS right now? I suspect the league would not want to sell its reigning MVP for less than the $10 million it got from Villarreal for
Still, Donovan's ability to impress on the right has increased his confidence that he can compete at the highest level on a regular basis, which will only help during the World Cup. Where he'll be playing after that -- whether it's with the Galaxy, Everton or some other club -- remains to be seen.
Back at you next week from Florida ...